Gina Lucrezi is a professional ultra-trail runner and the founder of the Trail Sisters Community and on line journal. She is a huge advocate for promoting women’s trail running and outdoor activity. She loves sharing her thoughts and experiences through words and photographs. Gina holds the women’s FKT on Mt. Whitney’s standard route, is a USATF Trail 10k Champion, 2012 Team USA 1st place world long distance champion, and 2x winner of the Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler and a 5th place finish at CCC 100k.
A true champion for gender equality in the sport of ultrarunning. Gina has a great spirit and is fulfilling her mission to increase women’s participation and opportunity in trail running and hiking through inspiration, education, and empowerment. We covered so much on this one. Listen to Gina share about the Trail Sisters Community from the start and how it has impacted her life. We also talk about Gina’s rich running history and current 100-mile goals. There is a lot to unpack in this one. I will leave you with some words of encouragement from Gina written after our podcast. Take a bet on yourself!
Yesterday I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the lovely ladies of My First Ultra podcast (it was a blast!). One of their final questions was, "What special message would you like to share with listeners?" This is usually a toughie...as multiple things come to mind, and I'm a talker :)
I decided to speak about the practice of building confidence, and remembering to take a bet on yourself. Like anything else we do in life, practice makes perfect. We repeat a process, learning what works (and doesn't), and fine tune it. Building one's confidence takes that same repetition and fine tuning! Every day, focus on one action that reminds and strengthens your belief in yourself. This does not have to be running related...just something you enjoy and can demonstrate your capabilities.
A daily practice of positive reinforcement will build that "I Can!" attitude, and sets you on a path for stronger confidence in whatever may come your way!
IG - @ginalucrezi
We want to inspire you today with someone special. When most people hear the name Mickey Maurer it is related to business or writing because he has had much success with both. But today we are going to talk about adventure, giving, and happiness, areas where he has also had much success. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Mickey over the last 17 years. We may have bonded over being persuaded to represent our age brackets at the Corporate Challenge in the running events over the years. Mickey is one of the most positive, giving, and energetic people I know. Mickey Maurer’s career as an attorney, author and entrepreneur has included cable television, film production, radio broadcasting, publishing, real estate, and banking. Mickey is an active participant in numerous business, civic, educational, and philanthropic organizations. In 2001, Mickey established Mickey’s Camp, a charitable endeavor that has raised over $3 million for central Indiana charities. Recently he traveled to Poland to help with the Ukrainian refugees. Some of Mickey’s hobbies include mountain climbing, having successfully summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, skiing, and underwater photography. At 80 years old he doesn’t seem to be sitting idle.
What a fun conversation we had with Mickey. Mickey is a person that is always learning and using his skills and knowledge to help others. On this podcast we talk about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu twice. We had a heartfelt conversation about his recent trip to Poland to help with the Ukrainian refugees. This was my favorite part of the podcast. According to Mickey one of the keys to happiness is to stay curious. There is definitely some inspiration and wisdom here. Stay curious friends!
Dreama Walton is an experienced mountain athlete with hundreds of miles spent in the Alps, multiple ultra-marathons in the desert landscapes of the Canary Islands, and day to day training in the upper altitudes of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, she is well aware of the kind of innate desire and commitment it takes to be an endurance athlete. She knows what an important role diet before, during, and after training and competition play in overall wellbeing. She has experienced firsthand the limitations placed on her with poor hydration, using ill designed equipment, and a lack of a level head when things don’t go as planned. She has accepted that running during bad weather is her way of paying dues for running during the good days. Running on no sleep rewards her by letting her see pieces of this planet that most people will only have the opportunity to see on the discovery channel. Pushing her body and mind allows her to see what the human animal is capable of when she reaches the end of a challenging race. The elation she feels when the race is done is the reward for hours, days, and weeks of training. This is why she loves ultra-running so much. It allows you to see that the only limits we have as humans we place on ourselves. Dreama is also a mother to an amazing little girl and loves showing her that we can do difficult things and that if she wants something bad enough, she too can put in the work to achieve it.
On this podcast Dreama talks about some of the struggles she has faced in her life and how they shaped her strong work ethic as a runner and in life. We also discuss balancing being a single parent and chasing big goals. Dreama is a very strong mountain climber so of course we had to talk nutrition. We felt so inspired after talking to Dreama. She has found a nice balance and figured out how to keep the focus on happiness and love. We are excited to follow along with her summer adventures!
Hannah Allgood is originally from Wisconsin but has lived in Colorado Springs since 2016 with her husband Gil and vizsla, Gunner. She works as a pediatric sports medicine physical therapist at Children's Hospital Colorado and began trail running in 2019 because of Gil. That same year she ran her first 50k, The Dirty Thirty. Hannah enjoyed the 50k-100k distances the most, but is looking forward to eventually running a 100 miler. She holds the course records for the Fall Back Blast 50k, Indian Creek Fifties 55k, and Gorge Waterfalls 100k. When she is not running, she enjoys hiking with her dog, baking desserts, and reading. The thing she loves most about trail running is being outside for long hours with her friends.
This was a fun conversation; Hannah is full of positivity and energy. We discuss how she has evolved as a trail runner since her first race in 2019. We also talk about self-doubt and importance of believing in yourself. We dive into the impact coaching has had on her, both mentally and in running. We chat about the importance of strength training. Hannah takes us through her recent Gorge Waterfalls 100k win. Hannah is one to watch, she has some big things coming up. I loved this quote from her “later becomes never” she definitely embraces that.
IG - @shesallgood21
Alexa Hasman lives in Portland, Oregon and is a mom to two small humans, ages 5 and 7. She owns a coaching business called Fit Life which she opened in 2014. She likes to make each of her clients feel special and empowered as they work towards their goals. She also owns a race company with her business partner, Zina. They purchased it a year and a half ago and just kicked off their second season of races. The company is called Gorgeous Relay Series and they do one day relays in the most beautiful parts of Oregon. They can also be run as ultras, as a single person team and that is something Alexa is most passionate about growing for this business. Alexa is currently finishing her dual masters in exercise science and sports psychology and will then be pursuing her PhD in sports psychology. In her free time, she is a passionate ultrarunner with a love for the longer and more mountainous races.
Did you ever meet someone that felt so familiar? That is how we felt when talking to Alexa. We had a great conversation about how she is using her coaching business and race company to empower women. You feel her passion for this when she speaks. Alexa is also a busy mom of two young children. It is always interesting to hear how inspiring women balance priorities. We also discuss her recent 100 miler and the community she has embraced and is working to build. We recorded this one on a Friday morning. It was the best way to kick off the weekend!
Christy has been playing sports since she was a young girl and carried her love for Soccer into high school where she played Varsity and was captain her senior year. She absolutely hated running and can remember barely finishing the one mile run during try-outs. Fast forward a few years, Christy continued playing on co-ed leagues, and stayed semi active, but soon after she married her husband, got pregnant with her first daughter, Emma, and two years later, had her second daughter Carleigh. After her second daughter, she started to run more to get back into shape, and when she was finally hitting her groove, BAM, she found out she was pregnant with baby number 3. Baby 3 would be the turning point of her entire life, where she soon found out at 20 weeks that her son, Alex, had Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) and would later pass away at 24 weeks pregnant. After losing Alex, Christy created a social media page called All For Alex where she set a goal to run 100 miles in July to honor his short life. This page allowed the community and even people from around the world to join in with this July goal and friends, families and strangers were flooding the page with running pictures in July in honor of Alex. Since that day, Christy hasn't slowed down...well actually she did when she got pregnant again in September with identical twin boys who were born that following May.
Lauren first started running in 2015 after a tragic house fire. She was living in an apartment where she found the apartment gym one day and would run to relieve the stress. When the stress or anxiety would consume her, she started to hit the pavement and never looked back. Lauren continued running throughout the years, finished her first half marathon, and even while pregnant with her daughter in 2021, continued to run and stay active . Christy and Lauren have always been super close, but when Christy moved on the same street as Lauren, they started to chat more about crazy challenges which one would always convince the other to do.
They have both ran at least one race a month for over two years, completed the 24-hour Yeti ultra-challenge, and they just completed their first 12 hour ultra this past August.
We had a blast hanging out with Christy and Lauren. We discuss their super fun Instagram. They talk about how it keeps them motivated and accountable. We also talk about balancing family, work and staying healthy. They have some great advice for those of us trying to find balance. Their support of each other is really special. They are very different runners but always work together to achieve big goals and keep each other going. We love these stories of support. Enjoy!
Angela Tortorice lined up for her first marathon in support of her former husband, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997. Since then, she has taken part in 999 marathons across North America and all 50 U.S. states. Through this journey, she has raised over $170,000 for MS. On April 2, 2022 she finished her 1,000th marathon at the Irving Marathon in Irving, Texas making her the youngest woman to complete 1,000 marathons, at the age of 54 years old. She also holds the record for most marathons run in a calendar year but a woman (129).
Most people have running one marathon on their bucket list. Running 1,000 seems unimaginable to most people but Angela is not like most people. On this podcast she talks about why the marathons and raising money for Multiple Sclerosis is so important to her. We also talk about how she has managed her life to achieve this huge accomplishment. She also shares some mental tricks that have come in handy over the last 25 years. Angela is proof that if you are committed and passionate about something you can accomplish big things.
Hey friends, we are back for another season! Catch up with us after our month off and let's chat about some upcoming guests!
Zoe is a Colorado based writer and trail runner. Southern storyteller turned mountain dweller, she starts every day with a cup of strong coffee and a good story. Her work has appeared on NPR, in REI Co-op Journal, Discover, Rock & Ice, Trail runner, Backpacker, and Threshold Podcast. Zoe merges her passion for storytelling with her love of trail running in her work as an editor at Trail Runner magazine. She currently hosts and produces the DNF podcast from Trail Runner magazine. Her trail running accomplishments include 1st place at the Crested Butte 100k, Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon and two consecutive wins at the War Eagle 50k. Her running and coaching are powered by the belief that with smart, efficient training and enough self-belief earth is 97% runnable.
I can’t think of anyone else who finds as much joy in running as Zoe. Her motto is pay attention to the things that make you feel joyful and run towards them. We had so much fun talking with Zoe. We talk about how she juggles running, writing, and podcasting and stays present. Zoe tells us why she always knew she would be a writer. We talk about how she found her way to running and the parallels between running and writing. Zoe in Greek means full of life, and we think it describes her perfectly.
Jameelah Abdul-Rahim Mujaahid is a Georgia super-woman, she is a single mom of 6, works a full-time job and runs Ultra marathons. It is common for Jameelah to drive several hours to a race, run 100 miles, jump in her car for the long drive home and go to work the next day. Jameela has always been athletic and excelled at the 100 meters to 400 meters. In her adulthood she became fascinated with the longer distances, she would go out and make herself run as far as she could, this began her obsession with running the long distances. Always looking for more Jameelah has accomplished some big goals from 100k and 100 miles to multi-day races up to 314 miles. Jameelah does not believe in quitting!
We are going to call this one the no excuses episode. After listening to Jameelah you will be inspired to think of reasons to succeed instead of excuses to quit. Jameelah shares so much with us including the moment that changed her life. We also discuss ultra-running and motherhood and how she has managed to do it all and remain devoted to her family. Giving is very important to Jameelah, she talks about how she is giving back to the community and encouraging minorities to get involved in running. Jameelah believes 100% that if you are here, it is not impossible.
Shawn Goertz is a 49-year-old recovering addict and cancer survivor. After a 20-year addiction he has been sober since 2007. On any given Thursday in the spring and fall you can find Shawn and his girlfriend, Andrea marking the trails of Three Creeks Conservation Area near Columbia, Missouri for that evening’s trail run. Trail running has been a lifesaver for him. To his local community, Shawn is an inspiration. His kindness, understanding, motivation, and ability to bring people together has helped many find their love of the trails. Shawn supports others in their efforts and has improved the lives of those around him. Shawn currently lives in Missouri with his dog Opie and spends time hitting the trails with his ultra-runner girlfriend, Andrea.
This was such an open, honest conversation about the struggles of addiction and much more. Shawn’s story is one of hope and giving back. We talk about how he made his way from prison to trail running. We also talk about how giving back to the trail running community has impacted Shawn’s life. He shares the struggles of dealing with injuries and slowing down on the trails. Shawn shares the touching story of his emotional Lake Tahoe Ultra where he spread his Mother’s ashes, it was a full circle moment for him. I wrote down many things he said but one thing I can’t stop thinking about is “we can only keep what we have by giving it away”. We will be cheering Shawn on in everything he does. I think you will be too!
What a ride! 50 episodes!! We are so thankful for each and every guest we have had on the show and their willingness to share their stories. We are also incredibly grateful for our listeners! We love doing this gig...so thank you! This episode is a summary of all the incredible words of encouragment our guests have left us with. Enjoy!
Jessie Gladish was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. She considers herself lucky to have parents who took her and her sister camping, hiking, skiing, and taught them that being outside is possible in any weather and in the dark. After high school she moved to British Columbia to attempt post-secondary school and ended up working and traveling more than going to classes. She has since worked hard and earned a diploma in Adventure Guiding in 2012, and in 2021 finished a science degree in earth and environmental science with a focus on geology. Jessie has been running off and on since 2006. Jesse has now completed the Moab 240 twice; the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 300-mile race; winter ultras; desert ultras; 430 miles on skis; 300-mile Iditarod Trail; 120 mile fat bike race; 233 miles in the Yukon Ultra on her bike and many other races. Jessie currently lives a life of adventure with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Jessie is not your typical adventurer; she is whole other level. There is a quiet unassuming confidence about her that comes through. On this episode you may just get lost in her story telling like we did. We talked a lot about her experiences taking on the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra. We discuss how her childhood impacted her life of adventure. We also talk about the mental toughness it takes to accomplish such hard goals. There are also some good wildlife encounter stories on this episode. We are really hoping Jessie writes a book. We will be the first to buy it! I know you will enjoy this one and find a lot of inspiration from Jessie.
Here is one of Jessie's race reports! Enjoy!
2015 Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra Race Report By: Jessie Thomson-Gladish
February 23rd, 2015: Over the past two weeks, I trudged at a speed of 3.5-4.5 km/hr, pulling a 65lb pulk loaded with all my winter survival and camping essentials, food and water. This steady pace for 12 and a half days propelled me from Whitehorse to Dawson City on the Yukon Quest sled dog trail. The MYAU is a single-stage, multi-day race with four distances: a traditional 26 mile marathon, 100 miles, 300 miles, and the 430 mile. Participants choose one of 3 modes of transport: on foot, on cross-country skis, or on a fat tire snow bike. Each one has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the temperature, snow fall, terrain and mechanical issues.
I chose to attempt the 430 mile, on foot. Everyone wants to know why. Why do the race at all? Why on foot? Why not try the 100 mile first before jumping into the big distance? I wanted to try the YAU because it took me home to the Yukon, it followed the iconic Yukon Quest sled dog trail (a big part of Yukon gold rush history), it offered solitude, and it offered a major personal challenge which I felt I could achieve deep down but the potential for anything to go wrong was there – any mistake could lead to having to scratch from the race. Why on foot, well, I felt it was the simplest mode. Shoes are simple. Skis can break, waxing can be difficult, ski boots can be cold and hard to warm up in; mountain bikes can break down and are expensive to buy. I felt the benefit of coasting down hills on skis or a bike didn’t quite outweigh the idea of walking the trail, although now having completed the distance I would like to try it on skis one year. The two guys from Sweden on their skis seemed to fly by me every day, after having sufficient rest at each checkpoint. I would travel later every night, they would be sleeping when I arrived, and sleeping when I left at 4 or 5am, only to fly by me again later in the morning or afternoon. Why the 430 mile? Well, I didn’t want to arrive at 100 miles, or 300 miles, and feel good and wish I could keep going but have to stop. I figured if I had to scratch at any point I would be happy with the distance I did make, but I wanted that Dawson City destination in my head, just in case I could put one foot in front of the other for the whole way.
1- Start Day
I feel like I could write pages and pages about the race, so I will! There are so many elements to it. The temperature was my biggest concern. We started at -30C in Shipyards Park and the first night at Rivendale Farms Checkpoint 1 on the Takhini River was reported down to -48C. Very cold night. Many people were not prepared for the low temps and when they attempted to camp/bivvy that first night found they were too cold to sleep and too tired to walk. I’m not sure how many racers scratched that first night, it seemed like half the field. The next day was cold too, around -30C all day. I managed to spend the night in my tent, however, I couldn’t pack it up in the morning – I was too cold. I wondered if I was cut out for this and could hardly imagine another 12 days like the first one. Instead of stuffing my tent I just laid it in my sled to deal with it later when I had more body heat. I had never experienced packing up in this kind of cold before, even with growing up in the Yukon. Most normal humans do not go out in these temps and if they do it’s for a short time with a cozy wood stove blazing for their return home. I spent a long time on this first night in my tent, about 10 hours, assessing my abilities and desire to go on. At 5am I was finally moving again, waiting for daylight and some feeling of safety and comfort from the sun so I could mentally recover from the reality of the extreme cold.
2 - Day Two
The next checkpoint would be Dog Grave Lake, which was a long 33 mile (53 km) day. I wore my down jacket with fur-lined hood all day without breaking a sweat. Constantly trying to keep my hands and feet warm and monitoring for frostbite, keeping my face as covered as possible. Luckily it was a beautiful clear day, which makes the cold more bearable. Mountains to the south, snow crystals shining. The man I was walking with that day, Helmut, stopped to take photos more often than I hoped as it slowed us down quite a bit. Eventually, I left him behind as I pushed on to Dog Grave Lake CP, only to find it way farther than I had expected (or it just felt like that). Traveling in the dark (dark by 630pm at this point), alone, through winding low-land alder and willow growth, then up up up a huge climb seemed endless and unfair, until finally reaching the remote CP around 1030pm. The small wall tent was packed with sleeping bodies, and I found out from the volunteers most of them were scratching and waiting for a snowmobile ride out the next day. There was no room for me to sleep in the wall tent, so I set up my sleeping bag on some straw dog beds left over from the mushers who passed through days earlier and slept fairly well in the -41C night. I didn’t set up my tent and instead just slept in my bag with my dads old army bag liner over top – much easier than dealing with tent poles.
3 - Day Three
I woke early and left by 530am, walking by the half-moon light and enjoyed myself, knowing the sun would come up in a few hours and Braeburn CP was my next stop, though not for many miles (35 miles) and hours. Braeburn was the first chance to sleep inside, dry my stuff out, eat a massive burger and let it sink in that I’d traveled 100 miles up to that point. This was the finish line for many, but not even a quarter of the way to Dawson for the 430 mile race!
4 - Day Four
From Braeburn to Ken Lake that fourth day was a beautiful one, although the longest day, at 45 miles, 74.5 km, it was a long haul. Chains of lakes with winding trail through the forests between. A flat day. I enjoyed catching up with Julie Pritchard, who had left Braeburn not long before me. We traveled together in silence and then chatted during our snack breaks. Before the sun set Oliver caught up with us, a 35 year old English doctor, and I ended up leaving the two of them behind to pick up my pace to Ken Lake CP. This was a long night for me, the lakes went on and on, and seemed to go uphill in the darkness. The forests between weren’t as much fun as they were in the daylight and the CP seemed to be farther away than I’d hoped (a recurring phenomenon throughout the race..that last 10 km before each CP was unbelievably long). I’d left Braeburn at 5am and arrived at Ken Lake by 11pm. Ken Lake checkpoint is at a small fishing & hunting cabin with a wall tent set up for athletes to have a meal in. There is no indoor sleeping. I quickly set up my sleeping bag (no tent again), using my pulk to sleep against so I didn’t roll down the sloped ground, changed my shoes and put my glorious down booties on. The small wall tent was warm, and I could dry my shoes and a few things out. I wolfed down the moose chili and a couple buns provided by the CP then hit the bag.
5 - Day Five
I ended up sleeping in until 630am, far later than I wanted! I bolted up, packed up quickly in the cold and filled my thermoses with hot water from the hard-working volunteers and got started on the trail. I was headed for Carmacks, a long 35 miles away.
More lakes to start with, and then the trail wound through a beautiful burned forest, and along the edge of the Yukon River. It felt good to see the Yukon River again. I caught up with Oliver and Tim and traveled with them most of the day. We were all tired and ended up snacking, breaking a lot, and walking painfully slow. We were close to Carmacks around 830/9pm, but still 4 km out when the snowmobile guys, Glenn and Ross, showed up and informed us we were cutting it close for arriving in Carmacks in time to make the 4.5 day cut-off time. We had no idea! We all thought it was the next morning. This kicked us into a gear I didn’t know I had in me, and we literally ran 4 km to Carmacks, pulks flying behind us up small hills, down, and along the river all the way towards the lights of the tiny village. It was not fun, but once we made it in time had a good laugh about how close we were to being pulled out of the race for what would have been a silly mistake.
Carmacks was a great place to be. The recreation center graciously gave us space inside, even for our pulks. So, it was a nice treat to dry everything out, reorganize the pulk, leave some gear behind that was too heavy and not being used, pick up the food drop bag and resupply the snacks. I ended up staying up until midnight as everything takes so long to do. I was able to talk on the phone and even check some emails. It was at this point I was realizing just how many friends and family were following my progress (via SPOTtracker online). I was overwhelmed by the support and love I felt, and it gave me extra energy and motivation.
6 - Day Six
Carmacks to McCabe Creek, 38 miles..another great day, a solitary one, I saw almost no one. The Swedish guys passed me, and we exchanged a few words and the usual smiles and then they were flying away on their skis. The snowmobiles came by once, the comforting fatherly face of Glenn always brightened up my day or night. But other than that, I had a solo day all the way. The sunny, shimmery, winter wonderland day turned into a dark tunnel at night, as usual. This was the worst night of the race for me mentally and physically. It felt endless..endless trail in endless dark. The trail seemed to wind in circles in the forest and at one point I thought I saw a red glow of fire in the distance, but it must’ve been imagined because it took another couple hours, a mental breakdown, and acceptance of reality, before I finally stumbled back onto the river and across it to the CP. It was 10pm. McCabe Creek. Finally. I slept on the floor beside other racers in the shed provided by a local Yukoner’s home. It was hot in the shed, but to let my body rest after such a long day on my feet was such a relief. I ate vegetables which tasted unbelievable. Rice and fish with the veggies then chicken, and then bread and peanut butter with something sweet for dessert.
My body felt broken after this many days on my feet and very little rest – joints screamed, and my bones ached as I lay on the floor in my sleeping bag. It really felt like all the stress and fear of the cold had cumulated in my body and were now being released. It was also the turning point in the race for pain. I felt like if I woke up and was still in this much pain I’d have to quit, but what happened instead was I woke up feeling better than I had since the start. My body figured out what we were doing and suddenly felt stronger day by day from then on, instead of breaking down.
7 - Day Seven
I left early, again. I was walking by 4 or 430am. I’d discovered my prime rest time was between 11pm and 4am, using some darkness to rest but getting away early enough to wait hours for the sunrise and maximize my daylight travel. The Swedish guys were still sleeping, of course, I would see them later on for sure. Today was a 6 mile long powerline walk near the highway towards Minto, then through low lying willow & alder land, along some lakes then eventually finding Pelly Crossing, 28 miles away, on the bank of the Pelly River. A shorter mileage day – but not a piece of cake by any means. I encountered overflow during the low laying land and had to put my snowshoes on to spread out my weight, use my poles to prod for harder ice sections that might not break through, and hope that my pulk didn’t tip over into the puddle of water. I made it through high and dry, but the thought of getting wet feet in this cold environment got my heart racing.
Pelly Crossing arrival in the daylight! That was my goal for the day, it felt great to roll in at 5pm, finally I had gotten somewhere at a ‘decent’ hour. Glenn took me over to the store to buy apples and new snack food, which was all I was thinking about all day! In the rec center I sorted and dried my gear, repacked my sled, visited with volunteers and racers (Oliver and Tim were there, both having scratched due to recurring injuries..back pain and shin splints). I also made a phone call to my Dad and stepmom Denise, who’d been quite anxious and worried up to this point on how I was doing. They were relieved to hear my voice and that I sounded confident and happy, and I think starting to realize I may just make it to Dawson if I kept doing what I was doing. My Dad said if I kept going he would be in Dawson for the finish, and this unexpected news made me so happy; knowing he’d be at the end consumed much of my thoughts for the next 6 days on the trail. After my phone calls and organizing I wolfed down bison stew and went to sleep amongst the other snoring bodies.
8 - Day Eight
3am wake up..bison stew for breakfast..then I was off on the Pelly River for 16 km which was absolutely beautiful in the starry morning and eventual sunrise. The rest of the day was on a road into Pelly Farms (33-mile day) on the longest, most beautiful driveway I’ve ever seen. I was near tears a few times because of the beauty. It was a special day and I travelled alone again all day – I hadn’t been on pace with anyone really at all yet and had spent more time than I ever had on my own in the wilderness. Arriving at the farm at 530pm as the sun was setting felt like a great end to the day. It got even better though once I realized I had arrived to heaven on earth. Pelly Farm is at the end of the Pelly River, just before it hits the Yukon River near Fort Selkirk. Dale and his wife run the farm, they have cows, chickens, pigs, and some beautiful collie dogs running around. Their house is tiny and cluttered, full of life with a real Yukon character; it was warm and inviting. Their generosity knew no bounds – we invaded their home, slept in their bunk beds, dried out gear, drank coffee and tea and used their tiny bathroom. The dinner they provided was a bread loaf pan of lasagna. Probably 2lbs of food. Apparently, it was a mix of bear and beef meat, and man did it taste good. I ate every ounce of it, plus a kit kat bar, and various chocolates and cookies and muffins kicking around. I slept like a log even with Jorn snoring on the bottom bunk, but only for a few hours.
Julie and I woke up at 230am, ate pancakes and amazing farm fresh eggs, packed up and were on the move by 4am. Julie had shown up at the farm the night before, much to my surprise. She’d fallen behind before McCabe Creek due to getting sick and losing a full day of travel time. It was a hard decision, but she decided to scratch from the race. She had been taken to Pelly Crossing, and after some rest and a chat with the RD she decided to take a snowmobile ride to Pelly Farm to catch up with me to see if I wanted to finish the race together. She would be an unofficial racer without a finish ranking, but I think this just shows her true spirit – Julie was there for the trail and experience, not a medal or status. I was more than happy to spend the next few days, the most remote days of the race, together. We’d become a team.
9 - Day Nine
Pelly Farms to Scroggie Creek CP is 65 miles. This meant we’d be camping out overnight somewhere in between the checkpoints. With really great information from Dale at the farm, we traveled about 50 km or so through the gorgeous burned forests and overflow sections, then up a 6 km hill climb and found a place to set up a bivvy beside the trail. We melted some water for our thermoses for the next day, ate a quick freeze-dried meal, and went right to sleep. We meant to wake up early, like 3am, but ended up sleeping in as I didn’t hear my watch alarm buried in my sleeping bag. We slept til 645, and I bolted awake and we quickly packed up and were moving by 730. This meant we were later into Scroggie Creek than we wanted to be, but I suppose we needed the sleep too. We followed a valley all the way, so much of it was flat. A nice “7.5km to go” message was written in the snow by Mark Hines, keeper of Scroggie Creek CP this year, and a 3-time MYAU 430 finisher and professional ultra-athlete. It was so great to meet him, as I’d read his book last summer – a couple times – in preparation for the race and Julie is a good friend of his. We ate dinner and visited in the small cabin. This place is remote and Mark was here for the whole duration of the Yukon Quest and the MYAU (checkpoint manager for the dogs/mushers who started a day before us, plus our race..he was there for about two weeks straight). The only way in is by snowmobile and it’s a long ride out either to Dawson or back to Pelly Farm. The dinner was chicken stew for me, and Mark made Julie a curry dish to make up for the last time he made it for her. I guess he mistook the cayenne for paprika and make it far too hot to the point of being inedible! Julie said this curry was just perfect.
10 - Day Ten
We left Scroggie at 4am. 99 miles to Dawson City from here. 99 miles!! I’d been dreaming of the moment I could say that, especially since I’d made up a song called “99 Miles to Dawson” in preparation for this moment. We were on the Stewart River for a short time, then eventually wound through the forest and into mining territory. We passed cats and bulldozers, haul trucks and sluicers. Great white mounds of snow-covered tailing piles as well.
That day we had the Black Hills/Eureka Dome climb ahead of us. It was a switchback road that took us from about 400m elevation up to almost 1200m. 2.5 hrs later we were sweaty on the top due to warm temps and spent the next few hours gently rolling along the ridge top, with a few surprisingly big hills to climb still. Also up here were many large wolf tracks. If I’d been alone my imagination may have wandered more to terrible scenarios that were unlikely to really happen, but in the company of another we were glad to find the tracks as evidence of animals moving about around us. Before we descended from the hills, we decided to set up a bivvy to get a couple hours sleep. It was already 930pm and Indian Creek CP was still a few hours away.
11 - Day Eleven
We slept until 3am then quietly awoke and packed up our tents to continue on our way. By this point in the race, actually ever since Carmacks, the temperature had risen, it was now much more comfortable traveling. The nights were lows of -12C ish, and daytime highs were even up to -2C. It felt warm. Indian Creek CP was reached just as daylight was breaking. We had Gerard’s amazing coffee, a pot of ichiban noodles, and a nice visit with his rather chubby rotweiller named Celise. Diane (medic) and Yann (photographer) were also hanging out there at the wall tent, so Julie and I had a tough time getting on our way! Coffee and socializing, plus some chocolate treats were enough to keep us there for a couple hours. But we had walking to do. And so, we continued. Our next big obstacle was King Soloman’s Dome, another hefty climb up to 1100m after losing a bunch of elevation the day before. So up we went, starting the climb that night around 7pm. We made it to the first switchback and decided to sleep for a couple hours before the final push to Dawson up and over the Dome, and all the way ‘downhill’ to Dawson on the other side. The night sky was great, bright stars, crisp night, maybe -15C or so, a slight breeze made it feel colder but we were protected by trees. We had boiled water and eaten our freeze-dried meal of choice by 11pm, crawled into our sleeping bags, and apparently, I was snoring within a minute of laying down. The northern lights were the last thing we saw before sleep, they were just coming out to dance as we slept.
12 - Day Twelve
At 2am we packed up. The sky was clouded over, no stars, and a layer of fog to travel through in the middle of the night made our headlamp light difficult to see through. The physical summit of the Dome was anticlimactic, as we still had some uphill grinds to do along the mountaintop, but we did take a photo for Jorn, who had scratched before Scroggie Creek and gave us treats to continue on with, and said we “had to make it to Dawson, for him, and for everyone”. He gave us gummie bear packages and we took our photo holding onto the bright packages in the darkness. I then ate all them at once.
We didn’t have daylight until we were well off the Dome and onto the downhill road descent on Bonanza Creek Road. We ran a little bit, maybe a 6-7 km/hr jog, when we could. Two more sections of overflow to cross as well, just when we thought we’d put it behind us! The snowmobile guides caught up with us at some point, Gary said we were doing great and to just keep going. We knew Bernhard was ahead of us, and Shawn behind. With Dawson in our sights we passed Claim 33, a splash of color, finally after the black and white past couple days, and then past Dredge #4. Joanne and Lucy came out to meet us with hot chocolate. Music was playing from their vehicle to pump us up for the final 13 km. But it ain’t over til it’s over, and in true MYAU form the last 10 km was tough! It was mid-afternoon and we knew we’d arrive in daylight, but it made it no easier or faster. We still plugged along, wondering when the hell we’d see the city and that finish line.
We had a visit with a local man and his Pomeranian fluff ball, then had to skirt past a barking black dog guarding the street. Finally we could see the bridge over the Klondike River and the path which would lead us into town. Walking the riverfront trail into Dawson City felt like coming home, kids playing and sledding, people going about their daily business, probably wondering what we were doing, or not caring at all. I could see the visitors center, which was the finish line and a small crowd of people gathered. My Dad and Denise were standing there just before the finish, relieved to see me looking fine after all that way and all the worrying. Finish line hugs and photos and congrats were a mix of emotions – I was so happy to be done, but also a little sad it was over.
There are so many moments that happen in almost 700km of walking. Ups and downs, daylight, nighttime, sunrise, sunset, worrying, wondering, being amazed at scenery, eating and drinking, resting and walking, sleeping minimally, reorganizing, packing/unpacking. Things happen slow, but now that it’s over it feels surreal and fast. 12.5 days of walking. I had thought I’d have some kind of great epiphany, some life revelations, some ingenious moment. Instead, I spent hours worrying about battery life, headlamp quality, how much water I had, my dwindling snack bag, sore hips, then sore heels, then a sore quad muscle, cold hands, layer on layer off, gloves on gloves off. Too hot too cold. Where is the checkpoint, how far have I gone, how fast am I going, how many hours can I sleep tonight? My mind was consumed by the present, which really is the beauty of survival at its simplest. Eat, sleep, water, shelter, keep moving. I loved it all, and even the moments I was alone in the dark and cold I felt in control and ready for anything.
March 15, 2015
It’s been 5 weeks since the start of the MYAU. Recovery has been easier than I thought it would be, but what isn’t easy is realizing it’s all over. The past year of thinking about the ultra, preparing for it, organizing my gear, buying more and more, training with my pulk and having it take up more mental space than I imagined it would has left a void I wasn’t ready for. I want to be back on the trail where life is simple. Move forward, eat, sleep. I miss the sound of my footsteps and the scrape of my pulk on the snow, and the pull of my harness on my hips. I miss the volunteers and the racers, the animal tracks, the snow. I even miss my small headlamp beam in the dark. I plan to do the YAU again in 2017 and that seems too far away.
My official result:
4th place out of 5 finishers on foot for the 430 mile. (19 people at the start line)
1st female in, and the only “official” female finisher of 2015.
2nd woman ever to finish, 1st Canadian woman to complete the 430.
Official time: 293 hours 25 minutes (12.5 days)
Thanks for taking an interest in my write up, and I hope it inspires you to challenge yourself in whatever way you want to.
http://yannbb.com/ (professional photographer, also on Instagram @_y_a_n_n_b_b_ )
http://www.arcticultra.de/en/event/results/results-2015 (MYAU website and results)
Terrie is full of wisdom and strength. I don’t think I have ever met anyone with more mental toughness. Terrie is also a person who is passionate about helping people and uses her knowledge to do just that, from honoring veterans, mentoring, to educating people about chronic pain. We talk about her 300-mile Vol State races and how they have impacted her life. I love the mental techniques she uses to keep pushing on. We also talk about pain and the impact it has on people. This is a subject Terrie is very educated in. Terrie also shares the keys to aging happy. We really enjoyed chatting with Terrie and feel grateful for the chance to learn a few things from her.
A former mixed martial arts fighter, Justin True was no stranger to pushing through unimaginable pain to win in the octagon. However, this pain was different, and too much for him to overcome.
True’s first attempt to take his own life was not successful, so he tried again. When the second attempt also failed, True had a fundamental shift in his outlook on life. He emerged wanting to turn his life around, and to help others who are suffering and feeling hopeless. Since that day, True’s life has been a calling to help others.
“Being tortured by my brother, being held at knife point, water boarded, torched, and locked in dog kennels growing up that it taught me that no matter what card your dealt with you have to keep going,” True said. “You have to keep fighting and get back up.”
True’s new outlook on life has pushed him to create the True Triathlon — a roughly 50-mile swim from Key Largo, FL to Key Biscayne, FL, 3400-mile bike ride to San Diego, CA, and a 600-mile run in an effort to raise $500,000 for Mental Health Awareness Month. True also hopes to break the stigma surrounding mental health while showing others the “undeniable power of speaking their truth.”
While this might seem like a physically insurmountable task, True’s past mental and physical challenges have prepared him for this new test. His past endeavors include completing a tandem 150-mile bike ride through the Cascades in Oregon state, an Olympic Triathlon carrying a 90-pound concrete Thor hammer, a marathon while pulling a truck 26.2 miles, and a 29-day, nearly 500-mile, walk across Madagascar in which he encountered numerous life-threatening situations.
“The triathlon is such a perfect metaphor for what I’m trying to convey, ” True said. “Swimming in the ocean symbolizes life’s waves — sometimes you can't tell up from down, but eventually you’re going to hit a clear spot and at some point the rough part’s going to end.”
A hybrid-athlete who loves action sports, adventure sports and extreme sports, True found a passion for pushing himself to the limit early on through mixed-martial arts. He trained out of Bend, Oregon and traveled all around the world to hone his skill, including to gyms across the United States, Netherlands, Belgium and Asia. Still to this day, he draws on lessons he learned in the octagon to help him push through crippling depression and inspire others.
“Back in the fighting days, when pinned against the cage you had one of two options: Get up and keep fighting or accept defeat and get beat down even more,” True said. “You need to keep fighting whether it’s against life or the emotions in your head telling you to give up. Even if it’s just one more second those seconds add up to minutes then to days eventually those battles add up to winning the war.”
True hopes that the triathlon will serve as both and a platform for discussing mental health and a fundraising catalyst. He has invited anyone who is willing to join him along his route for as long as they would like. As he undertakes each leg, he hopes well-known athletes, actors, musicians and thought leaders will join Justin for segments, creating space to share their own stories. True plans to document the True Triathlon and the stories shared along the way as part of a feature film.
“When you’re struggling with depression, the next day might be tough, the next week might be tough, but eventually you’re going to hit a spot that’s so cool,” True said. “The struggle will always be worth it.”
Annie Hughes was everything we thought and more. Her positive, happy energy really comes through. On this podcast we talk about what it is like to be the youngest female champion of the Leadville 100 and Moab 240. Annie shares fun stories about some of her other adventures and what drives her to keep pushing for more. We also discuss the influence other female ultra-runners have had on her. Annie embraces living and training in Leadville and shares some of her creative runs. We are excited to see what she does next!
Anthony Costales is a Junior High PE teacher and Ultra-Trail runner from Salt Lake City, UT where he lives with his wife Katie, 16-month-old daughter Piper, and their cattle dog Brighton. Born and raised in Northern California he started running in 6th grade after his Jr High PE teacher suggested he go out for the cross-country team, having no idea what that was, he showed up and the rest is history. He ran XC/Track at his local high school and continued on competing for American River Junior College and Chico State University. After obtaining his bachelor's in Kinesiology and teaching credential, Anthony moved to Utah and spent a few years road racing in distances from 10K to marathon, he then started the transition to trails. In 2018 he ran his first Ultra at the Moab Red Hot 55K and has now competed in distances from 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles.
Anthony was so much fun to chat with. He is a very focused and disciplined runner who juggles family and career responsibilities and manages to excel in the ultra-world. We talk about his experience qualifying for the 2018 US long distance mountain running team and winning the Canyons 100k which earned him a Western States Golden ticket. We also discuss balancing teaching and running and share a few laughs about it. I loved hearing Anthony talk about the impact his High School coach has had on the trajectory of his life. This is a good one! Enjoy!
We had so much fun chatting with Brittany. We talk about the transition from road to mountain running and the importance of keeping it fun. We discuss how she balances working and running as a professional athlete. Brittany gives some great advice on this topic. We also had a great conversation about the struggle with comparison to other athletes. We are excited to watch Brittany this year at Western States. Brittany is one of those people you instantly like. We think you will enjoy getting to know her a little better.
Hector Rodriguez is a husband, father of two girls and an Ultra Endurance athlete that resides in San Diego, CA. Since 2020, he has competed in over 20 Ultramarathons all over the country. His resume includes multiple 100+ milers on treadmills, top 5 finishes in 24/48-hour races, and four 200+ races including the Triple Crown of 200s in 2021. Hector is also very passionate about giving back to his community.
Hector has this amazing energy that makes you smile and pulls you in. We had so much fun chatting with him. Inspired by David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me book Hector has mastered the mental toughness it takes to keep going no matter what. We talked about the life changing experience that happened during the Moab 240 and running the Triple Crown of 200’s. We also discuss Hector’s running community, the Wolfpack and how they helped him stay focused with training through COVID. Hector believes to build a life of your dreams you have to help people build theirs. We talk about why that is important to him and how he is using his website as a platform for that mission. We are big fans of Hector and you will be too!
Instagram - @hrod619
Website - www.wolfpackendurance.com
Training for Ultra is the brainchild of ultramarathon runner Rob Steger and includes a website, an Amazon TV series, multiple films, a self-published book, and a globally ranked podcast. Rob started running in 2015 and since then he has run 30 ultramarathons including four 200-milers. He is currently getting into race directing and recently hosted his first virtual 50k! On his podcast, Training for Ultra, he has hosted numerous guests including Eliud Kipchoge, Courtney Dauwalter, Camille Herron, Dean Karnazes and many other fascinating people from the running world. Rob hopes to use his platform to inspire people to enjoy running and find fulfillment in life through healthier lifestyles and more time outside.
We were so honored to be able to talk with Rob. He is very busy with several projects going on, we had to pull him away from editing for our chat. We had some questions lined up, but our conversation went in another direction. Rob shares his struggles with dyslexia and how he embraced his learning difference and used it to succeed in many areas “Embrace failure and learn from it”. We also talk about Running the Triple Crown and the why behind it. Rob is someone who cares about helping others and is using his platform to support and encourage people. This was a very special episode. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Podcast - The Training For Ultra Podcast
Instagram - @TrainingForUltra
FaceBook - Rob Steger (Training For Ultra)
Twitter - Training4Ultra
YouTube - TrainingForUltra
Beth Freymiller is a wife, mom of three girls, engineer, yoga teacher, cyclist, and trail runner with a passion for being active in the outdoors. Beth was a college track and field and cross-country athlete. She took a long break from running after college just returning to the sport in 2020 as a trail runner. Since then, she has completed two 50k’s and one 100k. Beth is also active as a cyclist who competes in endurance races on gravel, mountain and fat bikes. Beth is a total bad ass with an unbelievable drive and focus. She is also highly proficient at driving her coach nuts by signing up for too many races.
We had a great chat with our friend and fellow Team BU member. Beth embodies focus and determination, she believes in herself and is always striving for more. Beth is not just a runner but an avid biker, we discuss her dedication to both running and biking. She talks about her big goals and how she is balancing family and work life to make them happen. We also talk about the importance and impact of the running and biking community. After you listen to this one you just might feel like stepping up your game and tackling some big goals.
Sarah Cummings is a marathon, ultramarathon and ultra-trail runner. She is a 2-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier (2:34.47 personal best) and 3-time member of Team USA (Road 50K x2, Pan American Games Marathon). In 2014, she was 10th at the Chicago Marathon.
Sarah started her running career at Corona del Mar HS in Newport Beach, CA and continued at Princeton University where she graduated in 2011 with a degree in Economics. While at Princeton, Sarah was a 4-time Ivy League Champion and earned All-America honors in 2009 in the 10K. In 2017, following a near career ending hamstring surgery, Sarah discovered her love for the trails while on a "runcation" in the Dolomites. It was only in 2020 that she got the chance to trail run and adventure on a regular basis after moving from New York City to Park City, Utah.
Sarah's top ultra and ultra-trail performances include a win at the 2021 JFK 50mi in 6:18.43 (and a runner up finish in 2020), overall (M/F) win and CR at the 2021 Arches 50mi, win and CR at the 2021 Antelope Island 50K, and a win at the Hardloop 50K in 3:19.15 (Road 50K PR). Sarah was named #5 2021 UltraRunner of the Year by UltraRunner Magazine.
Sarah is a winter sports aficionado. She loves snowboarding, splitboarding, nordic skiing, and ice skating. Sarah is an assistant coach for the Park City High School Cross Country team.
“Accept what your body is willing to give and stay present”. Wise words from Sarah Cummings! Sarah takes us through her running career and how she came to be one of the top trail runners of 2021. We also talk about what inspired her move from New York to Utah. Sarah also talks about her almost career ending injury and how she came through it. Sarah has so much gratitude and it really comes through when you talk to her. We are excited to follow along with Sarah’s running journey and are rooting for her. We know you will be too!
What a fun and inspiring conversation we had with Will. He is one of a kind in the best way. We got to know Will from the COVID season of Becoming Ultra, he was one of two people selected to run their first 50k. Since then, Will’s life has taken a few turns. Diagnosed with tonsil cancer, he never let that stop him from setting goals and doing hard things to help others. Subsequently, Will discovered he has cancer in his lymph nodes. Still can’t stop this guy! His mindset and positive attitude are amazing. This one is full of fun talk and lots of inspiration. We feel so fortunate to know Will and hope you enjoy this one.
If you are considering a trail camp or running vacation this one is for you. Erica talks about her latest stage race and trail camps. Her enthusiasm, support and attention to detail will make you want to go for it. Erica is also an ultra-runner with some impressive races under her belt. We talk about how her career in music production and passion for running made the transition into running camps and vacations the perfect fit. One of my favorite parts of this podcast was Erica talking about change. We think her superpower is being happy and making others happy. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!